Flamin Hot 2023 Movie Scene Jesse Garcia as Richard Montañez working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory

Flamin’ Hot [2023]

Based on a rags-to-riches story that actually happened, Flamin’ Hot is a breezy comedy you should check out. It belongs to a new wave of American comedies focusing on the Hispanic market. Movies like How to Be a Latin Lover and The Valet. Featuring likable characters, excellent structure, and fast pacing, these movies are easily digestible. In this one, we will be following Richard Montañez, a guy determined to succeed and provide for his family. After getting out of the drug business, he gets a job as a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory. And the rest is history.

If you want to look at Flamin’ Hot as an inspirational story, you can do that. You can look at the characters and identify with them and their issues. This part was excellent, especially Richard’s relationship with his father, something I’m sure many of us will recognize. You can also look at the movie as a classic comedy with a Latino twist. However, if you’re a bit cynical, you can also look at it as a sappy and melodramatic romanization of late-stage capitalism. Sure, Richard might have made it but for every Richard there are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t make it.

People who spend their lives barely hanging on while the rich scoop up all the profits and then tell you how you should work hard and good things will happen. And if the color of your skin happens to be not white, well, then the game went from hard to very hard. Underneath all these themes is a man just trying to do what’s right in this wrong world. I have nothing but respect for that and that kind of worldview. You should also know that Richard Montañez is the only one who claims he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Frito-Lay denies this claim and other employees tell a similar story.

He did work on a couple of products a couple of years earlier but none of that really matters. I know this kind of dampens the mood surrounding this upbeat comedy but I had to say something. And I didn’t even dig into this corporate Frito-Lay bullshit. On the positive side, I didn’t know Eva Longoria was such a good director. And this is her first movie! She didn’t get bogged down in any of the hot topics while covering them. Eva took a rather practical approach and kept things movie with great editing and narration that helped with the immersion.

Richard Montañez is a young guy who decides to work an honest job after his wife gets pregnant. He leaves the gang and gets a job at the Frito-Lay factory as a janitor. The pay isn’t much and the job is quite labor-intensive but Richard doesn’t care. He’s willing to work hard and keep his eyes open for an opportunity to climb up. Sometimes all it takes is one great idea and your whole world changes…

The early gang days reminded me of the Chicano epic Blood In, Blood Out, make sure you check out that masterpiece as well. Jesse Garcia was excellent as Richard Montañez. His pitch-perfect performance really set the mood for the rest of the cast. Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shalhoub, and Emilio Rivera also gave solid performances. If you’re looking for a more realistic and cynical rags-to-riches story do check out El Infierno. It’s just as funny but also brutally honest and authentic. 

Moving on, Flamin’ Hot also offers us an opportunity to look at how snacks like Doritos and Cheetos are made. This part, including the people who work at such a place, was excellent. It was surprisingly honest and yet also upbeat somehow. Just as I was about to go down another cynical avenue of thought, the movie charmed me just enough to forget about it. So, if you’re looking for a casual, breezy, and sometimes a bit cheesy comedy, you’ve just found it in Flamin’ Hot. And yes, I did get a sudden urge to eat something spicy after watching it.

Director: Eva Longoria

Writers: Lewis Colick, Linda Yvette Chávez, Richard Montanez

Cast: Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Emilio Rivera, Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shalhoub, Vanessa Martinez

Fun Facts: Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez who play the roles of Montañez’s meet the real ones towards the end of the movie. They’re the couple that get free Cheetos and say “Are you serious?”


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8105234/

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